For the last few seasons prior to last year, I took some time during the offseasons to write something up about how lucky the Pittsburgh Steelers should consider themselves lucky for having such a stable and consistent place kicker such as Shaun Suisham at their disposal, a player whom they signed mid-season with a relatively undistinguished career prior to that point.
Recently, the Steelers announced that they have released the veteran kicker with a failed physical designation, and Suisham strongly implied that the ACL injury that ended his 2015 season might also end his career. I did not have an opportunity to write on the subject at that time, so I would like to do so now.
At least on paper, the Steelers are tremendously fortunate to have stumbled onto Chris Boswell as their third option to replace Suisham last season, and the fact of the matter is that there was every chance in the world that the second-year kicker, who made 29 of 32 regular season field goal attempts and all seven attempts in the postseason, would have unseated the elder kicker upon his return from injury.
That fact in itself is remarkable, given how important that Suisam had become since he came to the Steelers in the middle of the 2010 season after they felt it necessary to part with Jeff Reed at that time. Since then, in his five seasons, he posted an accuracy percentage of above 90 percent four times, and the one season below it was marred by a couple of botched and blocked kicks. And that consistency put him in some lofty company.
Suisham ends his tenure with the Steelers as the most accurate kicker in franchise history. While his career percentage of 84.1 alone is enough to see him stand 16th all-time in the most accurate kickers in NFL history—one spot and .05 percent behind Adam Vinatieri—his tenure with the Steelers alone produced a percentage of 87.9, which would, on its own, represent the second-best career ever, behind only current Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey, who has made an astonishing 90.6 percent of his field goals over his first five seasons.
Over the course of his final three seasons, Suisham was astounding from the 40-49-yard range, making all 30 of his 30 attempts in that range during that time period. He also made 57 of 59 attempts from 30-49 in that same period of time.
Suisham was also an important presence off the field, becoming a quiet and respected leader in the locker room, and while he was not necessarily an adept tackler, he never shied away from sticking his nose into the action—which was what likely ended his career, as we all know.
It’s quite unfortunate that his tenure with the Steelers had to end this way, unable even to compete to retain his job from a physical standpoint, and it will be disheartening if indeed this will be the end of the road for him. All reports about his personality and kindness notwithstanding, he was an excellent and somewhat underappreciated player for this team, and I wish him the best as he begins his path beyond football.